August 28, 2018 – Much speculation has circulated about the involvement of Michelin-star chef David Kinch with the new Aptos Village shopping center. The Santa Cruz resident has signed a lease for what he describes as a casual wood-fired eatery.
Although a rumor is going around that he has already ordered a pizza oven from Italy, Kinch says this isn’t true.
In an email, Kinch confirmed that although a lease had been signed at Aptos Village, he was unable to give further details, saying, “We are fine-tuning the concept at this point. The rumor about the oven is wrong. Our menu is not defined yet.”
But wouldn’t pizza by Kinch be a sure-fire hit? One can salivate over the possibilities that this star talent could bring to everyone’s favorite food. Sea urchin, crispy seaweed and smoked gouda, perhaps?
Whatever the concept, it’s safe to say that Kinch and company have had an eventful year thus far. Manresa, Kinch’s iconic three-Michelin-star restaurant in Los Gatos suffered the second fire in four years in July, forcing a closure of the restaurant while damage is repaired. The fire, which ignited outside the restaurant, burned an exterior wall and spread into the attic, causing minor damage to the interior. Santa Clara County Fire Capt. Bill Murphy speculated that the second fire, like the first one four years ago, appeared to be arson.
Kinch confirmed that we can expect a mid-September reopening for Manresa. In July 2014, Manresa suffered a serious fire in the kitchen, causing the restaurant to be closed for six months.
After a cooking demo at GourmetFest in Carmel last March, Kinch told me that his next venture would not be fine dining. It’s common knowledge that his Bywater Group, which owns New Orleans-themed Bywater in Los Gatos, is looking to expand into new hot markets. Aptos Village certainly fits that bill. At first, it was thought another Manresa Bread was slated for the Aptos site, but whatever Kinch and company have up their sleeves is definitely going to be something entirely new.
Meanwhile, a third iteration of Manresa Bread is set to debut in October, this time in Campbell. Baker, Avery Ruzicka, is stoked to have yet a third location for iconic breads, pastries and babkas. This one will provide offerings beyond baked goods and coffee, though. According to Ruzicka, “We’ve always wanted to serve more dishes, like sandwiches and salads, with the bread and pastries that we make and believe in. I’m excited to combine them with some of our other favorite ingredients and showcase all of the tasty ways you can enjoy Manresa Bread.”
Kinch is also rumored to be working on a new concept in the Caribbean. Again, nothing is cast in stone. Or in this case, sand.
Joining Kinch in the new 115-acre Aptos Village project, driven by Swenson Builders, will be Penny Ice Creamery, Cat and Cloud Coffee, the SockShop & Shoe Company and Betty Burgers. Sereno Group realtors will also have a presence in this multi-stage development set to open sometime in early spring of 2019. Additional retail will cycle in later. The project initially called for four restaurants and 15 retail spaces.
Laurie Negro of Betty’s Burgers confirms that she is opening a new location at 415 Trout Gulch Road, in the old Vapor cleaners building in Aptos. It will be right next to the New Leaf that is set to open there. She’s hoping to be flipping burgers there sometime next summer.
Zach Davis of The Penny Ice Creamery, says they have been following the progress of this project since it began five years ago. “One of the reasons we really embraced this project was its natural feel,” says Davis. “We like how it flows, with its multiple buildings and common green area. The fact it is not built on a grid, like other shopping center projects, makes it especially appealing.” He applauds the preservation of the old apple building, which will house the New Leaf store, and points to the multiple access points for the project, which will help alleviate congestion.
“This is really going to be great for Aptos,” says Davis. “Plus, more people from South County will have access to our ice cream.” He says the peachy peach is amazing right now. The Penny currently has two locations: downtown Santa Cruz where the artisan products are made and a shop at Pleasure Point. Davis says he hopes a local micro-brewery might come into Building 3, where they are set to open. But he wouldn’t be opposed to a wine tasting room for a neighbor, either.
With the closure of Assembly, one wonders what else might be in store for The Glass Jar folks. Davis says they are talking to lots of different people at this point, and nothing is definitive.
We’re feeling pretty bullish about ice cream right now. And pizza.
Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Edible Monterey Bay, Spirited, WineOh.Tv, Los Gatos Magazine and Wine Industry Network, and a variety of consumer publications. Her passion is telling stories about the intriguing characters who inhabit the fascinating world of wine and food.